Hong Mai's Record of the Listener and Its Song Dynasty Context

By Alister D. Inglis

Subjects: Asian Literature
Series: SUNY series in Chinese Philosophy and Culture
Paperback : 9780791468227, 252 pages, June 2007
Hardcover : 9780791468210, 252 pages, August 2006

Table of contents

1. The Author and His Collection
2. Authorial Voice and Textual Reception
3. Themes
4. Genre
5. Questions of “Reliability” and Transmission
Appendix 1
Appendix 2
Map 1
Selected Bibliography

The first book-length consideration of Hong Mai’s Record of the Listener, the Song dynasty text that has been an ongoing source of literary and social history.


2007 CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title

Song dynasty historian Hong Mai (1123–1202) spent a lifetime on a collection of supernatural accounts, contemporary incidents, poems, and riddles, among other genres, which he entitled Record of the Listener (Yijian zhi). His informants included a wide range of his contemporaries, from scholar-officials to concubines, Buddhist monks, and soldiers, who helped Hong Mai leave one of the most vivid portraits of life and the different classes in China during this period. Originally comprising a massive 420 chapters, only a fraction survived the Mongol ravaging of China in the thirteenth century.

The present volume is the first book-length consideration of this important text, which has been an ongoing source of literary and social history. Alister D. Inglis explores fundamental questions surrounding the work and its making, such as theme, genre, authorial intent, the veracity of the accounts, and their circulation in both oral and written form. In addition to a brief outline of Hong Mai's life that incorporates Hong's autobiographical anecdotes, the book includes many intriguing stories translated into English for the first time, including Hong's legendary thirty-one prefaces. Record of the Listener fills the gaps left by official Chinese historians who, unlike Hong Mai, did not comment on women's affairs, ghosts and the paranormal, local crime, human sacrifice, little-known locales, and unofficial biographies.

Alister D. Inglis is Freeman Professor of Chinese Language and Literature at Simmons College.